Man behind Tynecastle mic on ‘fortress’ dream

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SCOTT WILSON will bellow out his trademark shout of “Let’s make some noise!” just as Hearts and Rangers prepare to kick off at Tynecastle this Sunday, and the home support, sensing an opportunity to crank up the pressure on the Old Firm, will respond accordingly.

The ever-ebullient Wilson has established himself as a cult hero among the Hearts support since making his debut as Tynecastle’s stadium announcer in the 5-1 win over Hibs in 2002. And the self-confessed fan with a microphone knows he has a responsibility to ensure that Tynecastle continues to reverberate in the manner which sees it regarded as Scotland’s most atmospheric stadium (it was voted so by Clydesdale Bank in two successive seasons between 2007 and 2009).

Every team wants their home ground to be considered a fortress and Tynecastle has had that distinction at various junctures over the last decade. Namely in two seasons under Craig Levein between 2002 and 2004, the famous 2005-6 campaign when Hearts split the Old Firm, and the 2008-9 season under Csaba Laszlo.

For a spell, last season was shaping up as another such campaign until things unravelled in the closing months.

The way things stand right now, Tynecastle is very much Paulo Sergio’s fortress. Aside from Tottenham, the Edinburgh club have beaten every team who have visited Gorgie since the Portuguese was installed at the start of August.

After swatting aside Paksi 4-1 in the Europa League on Sergio’s debut night, the last four SPL games in Gorgie have all been won without losing a goal. On Sunday, they will attempt to notch up five straight SPL home wins for the first time since George Burley’s team won eight in a row in 2005. As a man whose job is to help create a feelgood factor in the stadium, Wilson is thrilled that the team are currently making his gig rather easy.

“We’re looking very comfortable at home this season,” says Wilson, pictured below. “We looked comfortable at Dunfermline on Saturday, but certainly at home we’re a completely different team this season. Tynecastle creates such an intimidating atmosphere for visiting teams, with the fans virtually on top of the pitch and when the fans are up for it, that works in our favour greatly.”

While Hearts have had periods of home dominance, they’ve also had to contend with periods where off-field matters have created an uneasy atmosphere in the stadium. Trying to keep fans behind the team when issues such as controversial managerial changes spring up make Wilson’s matchday job that bit tougher. Rousing and uniting the crowd behind the cause when they’re still lamenting the sacking of a legend, for example, provides the Voice of Tynecastle with a real test. However, such was the impact of Wilson’s rallying call ahead of the Paksi match, which came in the week the popular Jim Jefferies had been dismissed, he could probably lay claim to having played a significant role in ensuring Sergio’s reign got off to a smooth start.

“In many ways it was a bit of a battle cry I gave that night and it seemed to work,” said the former Radio Forth DJ. “I’m out and about during the week so I get feedback from my fellow supporters. A lot of them were cheesed off and Jim is a personal friend of mine so I was upset for him. But, first and foremost, what brings us all together is that we’re all followers of this great football club, and it’s the team on the park that we’re here to support. It could easily have been an awkward night, but there was a great atmosphere and it helped Paulo get off on the right foot.”

Such has been the impression Sergio has made since then, particularly at Tynecastle, every game now finishes with Give It Up by KC and the Sunshine Band blaring out, with the words altered to include the Portuguese manager’s name.

Wilson revealed that song could have been winger David Templeton’s ditty long before the Portuguese swanned into town. “I’d first looked out that song back in February because I planned to use it when David scored, but since then he’s never scored a goal. When I heard the fans singing the song about Sergio down at Tottenham, that was my opportunity to start playing it.”

Currently with his own media company, Wilson has been an announcer for the likes of Edinburgh Monarchs, Edinburgh Rocks and the Scottish Claymores, and is now considered the second in line for Scotland and cup matches at Hampden. However, hovering on his perch above the tunnel in Tynecastle’s main stand is now very much his natural habitat. “I put a lot of thought and effort into the choice of music and the feedback’s generally very positive,” he says. “It’s hugely flattering that a lot of fans appreciate what I do. Two of my biggest loves in life are music and Hearts so it’s a dream job for me. ‘Let’s make some noise’ is my trademark line – I used it when I was the play-caller for the Scottish Claymores so I’ve been using it for a long time.”

A man who cites his best moment on the job as the night Hearts beat Aberdeen to finish second in 2006, the amiable Wilson, just as enthusiastic in conversation as he is on the microphone, sees no reason why Hearts can’t repeat that feat this season.

“I’m very much looking forward to Sunday,” he says. “When we lost to St Johnstone my son was scathing about our chances. I told him that we’d respond by taking nine points from our next three games, and he laughed at me. We’re two-thirds of the way there and I don’t think we’ll lose on Sunday. I don’t think the Old Firm are any great shakes at all this season, so if any club can put together a wee bit consistency they could definitely be up there challenging”

With the inspirational voice of Wilson calling the tune, Hearts certainly won’t be short of encouragement as they strive for invincibility at Fortress Tynecastle.